‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Shows Bark, Topping Box Office


A scene from “The Secret Life of Pets.”

Universal Pictures

LOS ANGELES — Few summer movies had as much riding on them as “The Secret Life of Pets.” NBCUniversal started work on a related theme park ride before selling a single ticket. “If the film doesn’t do as well as I think, it will be painful,” the company’s chief executive, Steve Burke, acknowledged last month.

Well, the pooches and their pals pulled it off: “The Secret Life of Pets” took in about $103.2 million over the weekend at North American cinemas, the largest opening total this year for an original movie. Moreover, Illumination Entertainment, Universal’s animation division, kept production costs to a relatively modest $75 million.

Universal and Illumination, the studio behind the “Despicable Me” series, spent at least a year marketing the film, which received playful reviews, with corporate partners that included McDonald’s, PetSmart, General Mills and Chrysler.

The Legend of Tarzan” (Warner Bros.) was a distant second, collecting roughly $20.6 million, for a two-week total of $81.4 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. “Finding Dory” (Disney) was third, with domestic ticket sales of about $20.4 million, for a four-week domestic total of $422.6 million.

The weekend’s other new wide-release film, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” an R-rated comedy that cost 20th Century Fox $33 million to make, arrived to a ho-hum $16.6 million in estimated ticket sales. Some box office analysts speculated that Zac Efron, one of the movie’s stars, has visited raunchy material too often, having recently appeared in films like “Dirty Grandpa” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.”

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